Coronavirus Roundup: Another Reason to Wear a Mask | Health | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

This is a roundup of coronavirus news and announcements from New York State and Hudson Valley and Catskills counties published on Tuesday, May 12. Produced in collaboration with The Other Hudson Valley.

Note: Starting today, we are grouping local updates by region and tracking active cases in every county that provides numbers. A couple of times per week, we’ll also dive deeper into an issue in the news, with the goal of shedding light on how the region is handling the next phase of the pandemic. Look for that soon.

338,485 cases confirmed (1,430 new)
1,225,113 tests performed (20,462 new)
21,845 deaths (205 new)
73,143 hospitalizations (overall)
7,063 hospitalizations (current)
2,375 ICU admissions
Confirmed cases per 10,000 residents: 174
New York State coronavirus page
New York State official pressroom
Hotline: (888) 364-3065

There won’t be a vaccine by the start of the new school year. The US still doesn’t have a good contact tracing infrastructure. This fall could bring a resurgence of cases. And opening the country up too soon to business and social gatherings is likely to have grim results. That’s the story the Senate heard from top federal health officials, including Anthony Fauci, in a Tuesday hearing that struck a very different note from the self-congratulatory press briefings from the White House lately. 

The theme of the day in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefing on Tuesday: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. What it means to the governor: Wearing a mask. “When you wear a mask, you say, ‘I respect you.’ That’s what the mask says to everyone you walk past. I respect you. I respect you. I respect your health, I respect your privacy, I respect your space, I respect you,” Cuomo said. “I can do anything I want with myself. This is America. But I respect you.”

On Monday evening, a federal judge ordered Cuomo to add an American Sign Language interpreter to his daily televised briefings, a measure every other state in the nation has taken to ensure Deaf viewers have access to important information on the pandemic. New York State has provided an ASL stream on the state website, but having an interpreter in-frame in television broadcasts would mean that people with limited internet access can still see the briefing in sign language. Cuomo has argued that an interpreter in the room adds unnecessary density to the daily briefings, but City & State argues that that’s a pretty weak excuse. “If one of the state’s major explanations for why they did not want to bring an interpreter to their press conferences was to avoid violating social distancing measures, then why did he continually make room for his daughters at them?” the outlet writes.

Congressman Antonio Delgado is pushing for aid to smaller communities in the next federal coronavirus bill. The Democratic Congressman, who represents a large chunk of the Hudson Valley and Catskills, joined forces with Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin and New York’s two Democratic Senators to introduce the Direct Support for Communities Act, which could provide help to towns, villages, smaller cities, and county governments whose budgets have been thrown into chaos by the pandemic. The CARES Act, passed on March 27, includes provisions for direct local aid only to governments of municipalities whose population is more than 500,000.

Announced by New York State on Tuesday

  • New York State’s Congressional delegation will introduce legislation aimed at preventing corporate bailouts that don’t benefit workers, Cuomo announced Tuesday. The governor proposed the bill, dubbed the Americans First Law, on Sunday; if passed, the law would require any company receiving federal aid to rehire the same number of workers after the pandemic is over that they had before. In Tuesday’s briefing, Cuomo railed against banks that spent 2008 financial crisis bailouts on executive bonuses. “The new scam is going to be: These corporations are going to use this pandemic to lay off workers,” he said. “That is what they’re going to do…They do these analyst calls where they tell the analysts why their stock value is going to go up.”
  • The state Department of Health is directing hospitals and healthcare providers to prioritize testing in children presenting symptoms associated with a rare inflammatory syndrome linked to COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of three children in New York State so far. 
  • Cuomo plans to issue another joint statement with the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, and the National Governors Association, calling for unrestricted federal funding for states to help them respond to the pandemic and keep essential services funded. “We want funding to allow us to do our job. Democrats and Republicans working together are going to make this statement, and Washington should listen,” Cuomo said.  

County coronavirus pages: Rockland, Westchester, Putnam

Senator David Carlucci, who represents Rockland and Westchester counties, has proposed a bill that will permit businesses to take the temperature of customers at entryways and allows those businesses to take corrective action to remove individuals with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The bill also would ensure that customers with high temperatures have an alternate way of receiving products and services they require. Businesses that opt-in to the law will be required to post signs informing customers of the screening process. “People are taking extra precautions during this crisis, but they still need to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the gas station,” Carlucci said. “We need to ensure that there are systems in place to keep residents even safer when out.”

Yonkers Public Schools is considering cutting approximately 189 positions to help fill a $22.5 million budget shortfall in mayor Mike Spano’s proposed executive budget. City officials said the budget document stays within the property tax cap, contains no reductions in city services, and provides a record contribution to Yonkers Public Schools. Even with the additional contribution, Spano said that there was a significant gap in the board's budget.

County coronavirus pages: Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Columbia

A Columbia County nursing home has transferred 37 of its residents to other facilities to deal with a coronavirus outbreak. The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Barnwell in Valatie, where 117 residents—more than half the population—tested positive, said it had transferred uninfected residents to three other Grand nursing homes. The home transferred James Daigle to another care facility in South Point, Long Island, without telling his family, his daughter Sara Daigle said Tuesday. “I was very upset and shaking. He was transported for four hours that nobody knew about and nobody was aware of.” A team of nurses sent in by the state tested all the residents at Barnwell, and the county continues to conduct tests. Seven residents have died, according to the Columbia County Department of Health.

Nineteen cases of COVID-19 were uncovered during the first step of Dutchess County’s plan to test every nursing home resident in its borders. Only 261 residents at two facilities have so far been tested, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal, and the 11 facilities in Dutchess contain more than 3,000 beds.

Legoland’s parent company, the UK-based Merlin Entertainments, is in trouble: The company is up to its eyeballs in high-interest debt, and recently closed a $543 million junk bond sale in an effort to keep afloat, the Times Herald-Record reports. The company was scheduled to open its newest attraction in Goshen on July 4, but the pandemic has pushed off Legoland’s launch date till 2021.

Two Bard professors have been awarded a $60,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to develop models more accurately predicting how the coronavirus reacts to social distancing. Matthew Junge, a mathematics professor, and Felicia Keesing, a biology professor, as well as Grinnell College professor Nicole Eikmeier received the funding through the foundation’s Rapid Response Research program. They money should fund the research for the next six months.

County coronavirus pages: Sullivan, Delaware, Greene, Schoharie

The pandemic could cost Sullivan County $20 million in lost revenue, county treasurer Nancy Buck told legislators and residents in a Monday meeting, Mid-Hudson News reports. “I don’t know what the legislators are going to do. They are going to make some terrible, hard decisions, and there are going to be people in Sullivan County who are not going to be happy,” she said.

The board of the Delaware County Fair, scheduled for August 17-22, is still holding out hope for holding the event, but keeping a close eye on plans for the New York State Fair and likely to follow the state’s lead, The Daily Star reports. The fair draws more than 80,000 people annually to the Walton fairgrounds.

New York State data is now showing that two deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in Schoharie County. The county Department of Health has yet to announce the new fatality; their last update on case numbers was on Wednesday, May 6.

Greene County is now providing updates on case counts and fatalities in county nursing homes. The county began including the data on Monday, on the heels of New York State beginning to release more information about how the pandemic is impacting nursing homes statewide. The county data dashboard shows that roughly two-thirds of the county’s active cases are in nursing homes or adult care facilities.

Cases per 10,000 residents in each county, drawn from New York State’s data of cases found the previous day.

Translation services in public and private institutions have increased in recent years, but not enough to service the needs of the growing population of limited English proficiency speakers, a fact emphasized and made more urgent by the public-health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. What happens to an already vulnerable population when they can’t access this information? Our latest feature, reported and written by Valerie Pereyra, analyzes the need for language justice in the Hudson Valley.

The River has a guide on where, how, and when to get tested for the coronavirus in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. We also have a regularly updated list of resources on our website. To read more of our daily news roundups, visit our coronavirus page

The River is collaborating with WGXC to announce these updates over the air. To listen, tune in to 90.7 FM at midnight, 5am, 7am, or 9am, or visit the audio archive online.

La Voz, una revista de cultura y noticias del Valle de Hudson en español, está traduciendo estos resúmenes y co-publicandolos en su página web. Leyendo aqui. También puede escuchar actualizaciones diarias por audio en el show “La Voz con Mariel Fiori” en Radio Kingston.

Lissa Harris

Lissa Harris is a staff writer at The River and a volunteer firefighter. She was the founding editor of the Watershed Post, a site that covered local news in the rural Catskills from 2010 to 2017.
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